New budget deal dumps budget caps

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The swamp wins again! The new budget deal negotiated today between Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) eliminates the sequestration budget caps that for the past half dozen or so years have put at least a few limits on government spending.

The deal removes sequestration budget caps for two years, increases defense spending and also boosts funding for domestic programs that were priorities for Democrats, such as opioid addiction programs. It also raises the debt ceiling until 2019.

It was unclear if the Senate deal will get enough support when it goes to the House.

According to this report, the deal will raise government spending by $300 billion over the next two years.

Even as the two parties make a lot of noise over the FBI scandal, their leaders move to keep the spigot of cash flowing to their buddies, and thus to themselves. And as they do so the federal debt grows, and grows, and grows. And we get closer and closer to outright bankruptcy and collapse.

Update: Trump has endorsed the deal.

“The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military,” he wrote on Twitter. “It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great.”

“Dangerous sequester”? The sequestration rule has been the only thing that has kept any reins on budget spending for the past few years. In this matter Trump reveals his old liberal Democrat roots.



  • Kirk

    But wasn’t the tax cut supposed to reduce government revenue by $1.5T over 10 years, or $150B/yr. And this raises expenditures by $300B over 2 years, or $150B/yr. So they cancel each other out, right.

    Hmm, did I lose a sign in there somewhere?

  • Kirk

    (WaPo “Republicans are completely reversing themselves on the deficit” is saying the spending increase would be $500B over 2 years, but the tax cut reducing revenues by “more than $1T” over ten years, so my $1.5T sounds excessive.)

    So have our political choices become “Tax and spend Democrats” or “Tax cut and spend Republicans”?

    Two years ago everyone was talking about ISIS, now the concern is North Korea, and while external threats need to be protected against, I believe that the greatest existential threat the US faces is a financial one, driven by the populace’s expectation that they should be given more while doing less.

  • wayne

    A 2-year Budget agreement…. because they are so lazy & corrupt, they haven’t held budget hearings for 9 years and don’t intend to ever do so, ever again. They have to waive their own rules/regulations, to produce a 2 year-budget.

    Mitch (and his wife), Ryan, and Trump, (and scores of the Usual Suspects) can’t wait to borrow a(nother) trillion dollars to WASTE on phony-baloney “infrastructure,” and it’s mathematically impossible to grow our way out of this.

    Medicaid recipients- 74,800,000
    Food stamp recipients 46,000,000
    Government employees 26,000,000

    Not in labor force- 80,000,000
    Part-time workers- 27,000,000

    Student Loan debt- $1.5 billion
    Credit Card debt- $1 billion
    Mortgage debt -$14 billion

    US Population- 327 million
    US Income taxpayers- 121 million

  • Steve Earle

    Wayne, scary numbers esp that last one. I’ve always felt that everyone should have some “skin in the game” no matter how small in order to participate in the decision making. If it was up to me, you would be required to show that you are a net contributor to the Country before you would be allowed to vote!

    Perhaps the biggest pitfall of the 20th and now 21st Centuries has been the gradual disconnect between “Rights” and Responsibilities…..

    I’m guessing that the Trump people are betting on the Laffer Curve to bail out the country, and they may be right in the short term, but the long term debt is the elephant in the room and neither side wants to see it.

    IIRC it was De Toqueville who said that once the voters realize they can elect to empty the Treasury and give it to themselves that Democracy is doomed….. well forget the voters, it’s now our Representatives (who should know better) that are busy emptying the Treasury :-(

  • wayne

    Steve– good stuff.

    “….domestic programs that were priorities for Democrats, such as opioid addiction programs.”

    >I would put forth the proposition: We don’t have an “opioid problem,” per se, we have an imported heroin-problem. And the way to ‘fix’ that? Take the money out of it, and then address the natural background-rate.
    But, we aren’t going to ever have, that discussion.

    (“rehab,” is a YUGE business, so big now in fact, my boss merged with our next biggest “non-profit,” competitor, and we’re getting back into vocational-rehab for drug-misusers, big time.)

    I don’t have 2018 quota’s handy, but the DEA has been cutting the hydrocodone quota, ever since the peak in 2013/14.
    In my humble opinion– Obama intentionally addicted millions of poor people with hydrocodone. The cumulative dosage units directed at Medicaid recipients during the Obama administration, approaches almost a billion units.
    That doesn’t happen my accident, and it’s not the fault of Big Pharma. (not this time)

    “Last week, [october 2016] the DEA announced that production quotas for “almost every” Schedule II opiate and opioid medication will be reduced by 25% for the coming year, with a few—including hydrocodone [Vicodin, Lortab, et al]—being cut by a third.
    Details on [2017] quotas for individual drugs were released in a final order available for public inspection at the DEA website:

  • Garry

    The true problem with the budget is entitlements. Some quick math from the debt clock Wayne linked to:

    -Medicare/Medicaid: $1.167 trillion
    -Social Security: $957 billion
    Total $2.124 trillion

    Payroll taxes $1.175 trillion

    Leaving a deficit of $949 billion from these 2 entitlements alone.

    As I understand it, under Reagan Social Security was running a surplus, until the demographic bomb went off. In other words, payroll taxes were bankrolling the other part of the budget instead of the entitlements dragging ti down, as it does now.

    The last substantial changes to social security were made in 1986. There have been attempts made since, but nobody has the courage to either raise the retirement age, or means test social security benefits, or eliminate the ceiling on payroll deductions for social security, or raise the payroll tax rate. I don’t particularly like any of these, but math is math; either we take one of these measures, or find another way to fund these entitlements.

    People are living way longer than they did when then system was set up, and there aren’t enough people of working age to pay in.

    Of course, on the medicare/medicaid side, we’re bankrolling far too many people, thanks to Obamacare, not to mention all the fraud, waste, and abuse.

    This isn’t to excuse the spending on the other side of the budget; there’s much fraud, waste, and abuse that could (and should) be eliminated.

    Wayne, good points on heroin, but I would submit that many people get hooked on heroin after their (improperly given) prescriptions run out. Hopefully the reduced quotas will have some effect there. And there’s the problem with other opiates (whose names escape me) that are more powerful than heroin and killing people.

  • wayne

    Good stuff- “Entitlements” will kill us all. They are killing us all.

    Ref- last bit. They have clamped down on hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, etc.) big time. (I was frankly shocked to see the amounts cut since 2014) The incidence of ‘incidental’ misuse remains quite high, but for misuse leading to addiction per se, it has dropped substantially. (but, as you are well aware, these problems persist for years once started, and there will be a bulge going forward, placing heavy demand on services. It will look like an “epidemic” but we’re not at that point.)
    Oxycodone [OxyContin] consumption is way down, but concurrently heroin is the preferred substitute of choice for OxyContin. similar high, similar dose.

    Fentanyl– extremely potent. dose is measured in micrograms.
    -Legal manufacture is tightly controlled and limited. It’s primarily flooding in from Asia, if you have the ability to convert morphine base into heroin, it’s more profitable to synthesize the fentynal.
    –Tangentially…What worries me big time, right now, isn’t the opiates so much as it is the kids raised on stimulant’s (amphetamines, etc.) since say 1990 or so. That is a 20 year, rolling, demographic time bomb that is already exploding in our faces.
    (I’m being redeployed to the front-lines of drug & vocational rehab, in March. I’ll let you know how that unfolds.)

  • Garry

    Wayne, fentanyl was what I was thinking of. Several acquaintances / acquaintances of friends have died from it in the past year.

    When someone gets so addicted they’ll take anything from any source, it’s like playing Russian roulette. Typically, they think they’re buying heroin and it turns out to be fentanyl.

    Hopefully we get a handle on the legal prescriptions.

    Best of luck on re-entering the front lines, and thank you for trying to help people find the way to sobriety.

  • Steve Earle

    Wayne, good luck and keep your head down…! (and I mean that figuratively AND literally! LOL)

    I am curious though. You speak of quotas and caps and Government production orders? Are we talking about the USSR or the People’s Republic with their top-down planned economies?

    Is this some part of Obamacare that I missed? How does the government (our government?) tell a private pharmaceutical company how much of any product they are “allowed” to manufacture?

    They are legal substances after all. Does the government tell the cigarette makers that they have to reduce their output because we’ve suddenly discovered that people die from smoking….. (and my guess is that at a higher daily rate than opioids…..) or do they tell GM and Ford (FCA is now an Italian company) that they need to cap production because highway deaths increased last year??

  • wayne

    Had a cushy set-up working from home, but I did miss actually seeing clients every day! We will be serving dually-diagnosed folks in vocational pursuits, and I do have a good track record with that, and the economy in my area hasn’t been this hot since 2005-ish.

    Thank you. Fortunately, our clients are all voluntary and have already jumped through a lot of hoops to get to this point, so they are highly motivated to succeed.

    The DEA does set yearly production quota’s for all controlled-substances and their precursor-chemicals.
    If you don’t have a production-quota amount assigned to you, you can’t make or sell any controlled substances.
    If you look at that PDF I linked to above, they specify yearly quota’s, in kilograms.

    –Hydrocodone (Lortab/Vicodin) production for example, for 2017, was set at “58,410 kilograms.” (Which is down substantially from roughly 75,000 kilos at peak consumption in 2013/2014.)

    Tangentially– Medicaid paid for roughly 700 million dosage units of hydrocodone during the Obama administration.
    When he said “take a pill,” he meant it, and Mitch McConnell ensured it was paid for with borrowed money. Now we have to live with the fallout.


  • Kirk

    Back to the subject at hand, I was surprised to see CNN write Rand Paul is right. I suspect the Senator Paul is fighting a losing battle here, but more power to him.

  • wayne

    “Mark Levin: The Democrats blackmail us with budget deals”
    (February 07 2018)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *